MIAMI – American Airlines became the first and only U.S. carrier to offer nonstop service from Miami International Airport to Suriname, a former Dutch colony in South America where offshore oil exploration has been booming.
The new nearly 5-hour flights to Johan Adolf Pengel International Airport near Suriname’s capital city of Paramaribo, operate five times a week. The airport, better known as JAP, is about an hour’s drive away from the city near the banks of the Suriname River, which flows northeastward to empty into the Atlantic Ocean.
Exploratory success in 2020 showed Suriname has “promise to become an oil production hot spot,” according to GlobalData, a data analytics and consulting company. Christine Valls, the AA managing director of sales for Florida, celebrated the first flight on Tuesday and said the airline has adapted to operate safely during the pandemic.
“American is encouraging its employees to get vaccinated. We have an incentive program in place where our team members can earn money and they get a vacation day,” Valls said after cutting the red ribbon before the inaugural flight to Suriname.
The airline will have more celebrations. AA is also preparing to reopen the private flagship lounge at MIA’s Concourse D on Sept. 28 and the lounge’s dining area on Sept. 30 with Chef Timon Balloo, formerly of SUGARCANE. AA’s Miami hub will have other new flights.
AA is extending the schedule of the twin-isle jets flying to Colombia starting Nov. 2. A Boeing 777-200 is assigned to Bogotá and two Boeing 787-8 Dreamliners to Cali and Medellin. Also starting on Nov. 2, a Boeing 787-8 will start flying to Ecuador and a Boeing 777-200 to Punta Cana. A Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner will fly to Jamaica starting Jan. 4.
Ralph Cutié, the interim director of the Miami-Dade Aviation Department, said the new flights are a sign that MIA is continuing to recover from the coronavirus pandemic-related disruptions in the travel industry. He said MIA is ready for the busy off-season from November through March.
“We expect a significant increase. American is going to be flying the largest schedule. We expect another low-cost carrier to come in,” Cutié said on Tuesday during a ceremony at MIA, adding that if the current trends hold out he expects MIA to get back to pre-pandemic flight levels next spring, before the peak season.